Nomadic vermiculture – vermicomposting is organic waste management in situ (on-site), mostly outdoor or in the greenhouse using the compost worms or red wigglers. Compost worm is epigeic or surface-litter dwelling earthworm that can help to process the organic waste from the plantation (fruits, leaves, succulent stems, and processing wastes), farm (manure, bedding), and food waste from the village nearby become high quality worm castings or vermicomposts to create the living soil.
The process of vermiculture – vermicomposting is in the trench or garden bed near the plant canopy. The worm castings produced during the vermicomposting will not be harvested but will be used directly by plants, so it will save the energy and time for the worm castings application. The excessive compost worm population will be harvested and transferred to the next new trench around the plantation with different mature trees.
Unlike nomadic vermiculture- vermicomposting in the trench or garden bed, worm tower is a permaculture (permanent agriculture) innovation designed to allow compost worms or red wigglers to compost food waste, garden waste, farm waste etc. in a closed container with holes at surrounding. This allows worms to come, stay, and go as they wish in the garden. The basic idea is that the compost worms will be safe, not eaten by the predators (e.g. birds, rats, raccoons etc.). They will do their job to decompose the food waste into worm castings or vermicompost for plants, and the container with holes will aerate the soil; so that it has a healthy and less foul smell soil.
Although the red wigglers are not real deep burrowing earthworms, they can thrive in the environment rich in organic matters inside the worm tower. Moreover, worm tower can create a better soil environment and invite the native earthworms (anecic or deep-burrowing earthworms and endogeic or upper-soil earthworms) that can be used as a bioindicator of the healthy and productive living soil toward the natural way of farming.
Concerning the size of the worm tower, it should not be too small at least in 1 foot diameter and 2 feet depth so it will not lack the surface area as the red wigglers like most to thrive. The density of the red wigglers is at least 2 handfuls or about a pound of worms including original bedding from the vermiculture activity. This bedding is important because it contains beneficial soil microbes that will act as a probiotic starter for the worms.
Moreover, the bedding is creating a suitable environment for the worms to thrive through their cocoons (compound eggs) production. Enough organic waste in the worm tower will warm-up the temperature during the harsh winter and cool-down the temperature during the hot summer. And pouring rain will not disturb the worms inside as there are enough holes around the worm tower and the water content of the earthworm is over 90%. The soggy waste will be okay for them, as long as it is in aerobic condition and the water can escape well through the soil. Watering may be needed during the dry summer.
The photo above is courtesy of Paul Lam of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.